The birth of my Fabric Dyeing (Tie and Dye)

keronga
Posted May 15, 2019 from Uganda
During one of my trainings in Zambia
During one of my trainings in Zambia (1/3)

Laziness is something that everyone detests. Personally I don’t like living or working with lazy people. But laziness made me find my passion.

I used to be very hardworking in class and very serious with my books until I joined Uganda College of Commerce (UCC) Pakwach. UCC Pakwach was both a blessing and a curse in my own understanding. I had studied in one of the best schools in the country where we used to say we are ‘brain boxers’ and trained to be the best so going to a place like UCC Pakwach was more a demotion in my young thought and a school for losers. I’m not diminishing the school because it’s one of the best in its category in business studies. That time I wasn’t in my right of minds so thought that college was a good place to pass time. And pass time I did!

Pakwach is in Northern Uganda in the West Nile region. It’s one of the hottest places one can think of.  It’s the only college I went to because of stress back home and wasn’t very serious about books. I used to go to class just for the sake of attending but I wasn’t serious. I knew I wouldn’t do well but it was better than staying at home in Kampala where life at that moment was unbearable. I was a teenage mother and wanted so much to go through the normal education system but not a course. I must admit, I went to the school out of frustration on which I will not elaborate so my concentration was very low.

Because of this laziness, I used to dodge classes sometimes and somehow I met a Ghanaian lady who was with her husband working in Pakwach. She was just a housewife but had passion working with the local women. I used to skip classes sometimes and follow her in communities where she would be training women how to do tie and dye. I wouldn’t participate but sit and watch her train the women.

Through the initiative of her husband, one lady was taken to Ghana to train on the tie and dye and when she came back, I used to go see her work too. But with her, since she was my close friend, she could allow me to try on my own too and sometimes when I make mistakes, she would praise the material that it came out beautifully.  She told me every mistake in tie and dye is a design which was actually true. With her, I started concentrating and eventually we formed a strong team.

I didn’t stop going out with the Ghanaian lady and every time she went out and trained new designs I would write down the procedure then whenever I got a chance I would try on my own. Every time I tried, I would get happier with my results and this became a better passion than the books I went to read. Of course, I had no choice but had to complete the two years of the business studies.

When I went back to Kampala after my course, we had established a strong bond with my friend and we started making many tie and dyes. I would carry the readymade materials to Kampala and do a little hawking until I sell all. With the money, I would go to Jinja a town which houses Nytil clothing factory buy more materials return to the village, dye and then return to Kampala.

We had made quite a little amount of money where we had agreed to be earning some money and invest some of the money in a shop. Which shop we also opened. We bought joint equipment for the business and had planned to register Essy-Evie Enterprises but unfortunately my friend got sick and eventually died so the business collapsed. We never had any written agreement so all the things we bought jointly I couldn’t claim them back. Evie’s family are still my friends and I know if I had asked for those things they would give but I just let it go.

To carry on her memory, I continued with the tie and dye business as a hobby. I would buy materials, stock in the house and when broke, dye and sell. I would use part of the money and invest part in more materials. This continued for a long time until I was encouraged by the response from people who kept asking me for more materials.

Eventually when I started working after so many years, I got a little serious on the tie and dye business. Whenever, I got my salary, I would use some to buy materials and stock. Every weekend I would get busy with the fabric dyeing business that I used to realize a lot of profits. I got customers in Sudan through my friends from Kitgum. I had customers in Italy through friends in my office and I sold my materials up to Germany and America.

The beauty of Tie and Dye.

Tie and dye is a creative art that doesn’t go out of fashion. Year in year out people keep on inventing new designs and even the Chinese have started producing factory made tie and dyes. Despite all this, I still feel my handmade tie and dyes are better than the factory ones because its crafted out of my own hands and made with lots of love.

For the cultural week while working in Italian Embassy when the Embassy decided to honour artists, I was one of those chosen to train the public for 2 weeks at the Uganda Museum and showcase my products amongsts others who were showcasing batiks and I trained more than 100 people who were coming and going including Makerere University students, the deaf and dumb, school children and people from other embassies.

I have trained more than 200 youths who have passed through Centenary Vocational Training Centre in Kampala, Uganda as part of their business mentorship program. I have trained countless women in Uganda on Tie and Dye and I have trained countless women and youth in Zambia (both boys and girls) on the same trade and I’m yet to make this an official registered business under ACRE in Uganda as one of my many programs for the Youth and women.

I have enclosed a sample for your critiquing.

My tie and dye, my passion.

Comments 10

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Sis. Salifu
May 15
May 15

Tie and dye fabrics are very quality and beautiful. We also got some here in Ghana. With different patterns and colours. I think is a beautiful trade for one to have. Splendid!

keronga
May 16
May 16

Hi Salifu,
Yes Ghana has beautiful tie and dye fabrics and my trainer was one beautiful kind hearted Ghanaian lady I have ever known.
She lives in Wales now.

Sis. Salifu
May 16
May 16

Yeah I told u so. Great trainer haha. Thanks for the acknowledgment.

Kay Link
May 15
May 15

What an amazing skill you have! I love admiring the beautiful fabrics you have shared in your photo. Do you ever sell your tie and dye online?

keronga
May 16
May 16

Hi Kay,
I haven't started an online store yet. Been selling through friends so far. I hope in future I will start.

Jill Langhus
May 16
May 16

Hi Beatrice,

How are you doing? Thanks so much for sharing your very interesting story and passion. I've always loved tie dyed fabric. I hope you can teach me one day:-)

keronga
May 16
May 16

Hi Jill, I'm okay. For sure I will teach you when we meet some day.

Jill Langhus
May 17
May 17

Hello dear,

Just okay? Hugs:-)

Selling your fabric online sounds like a good idea. Even better, if it's on sustainable fabric, such pineapple or banana fiber fabric?!

Maya Iwata
May 16
May 16

Thank you for your post about finding your passion and talent (tie dye) and persisting despite many challenges. Your work is beautiful and is indeed more special than something factory made as it has your artistic vision and passion in it. Congratulations on your work and for training so many other women and youth. Kudos!

keronga
May 16
May 16

Hi Maya,
Thanks for appreciating my work. For sure I love what I do and hope one day I will make it bigger